Today, it was brought to my attention that HTML 5 Editor Ian Hickson, in an August 27 interview with TechRepublic outlined a timetable for the “new” spec, which began life back in 2003. Hixie suggests HTML 5 will reach the “Proposed Recommendation” stage sometime in 2022. Go ahead, read it again. It’s not a typo. Two thousand twenty two.
I immediately stopped reading. Didn’t even bother with the rest of the interview. Why? Because it just doesn’t matter. The whole concept of web standards, which I once strongly advocated for, has now become so incredibly ridiculous as to be not even worth the time and attention of serious web designers and developers.
As I pointed out on Twitter today (much to the dismay of certain standardistas, who have previously asked me to name names instead of referring to a “shadowy cabal”): it ultimately doesn’t matter if HTML 5 is available next month, next year, or fifty years from now. Those of us who do real work in this industry know that the only thing that really matters is what specs and technologies are supported by the browsers real people use.
I’ve got work to do, here. I don’t have time to sit around reading specs and interviews by spec editors detailing what is going to happen in 13 years. God knows where I’ll be in 13 years. Quite frankly, I’ll be pretty fucking disappointed in myself (and our entire industry) if I’m writing HTML in 13 years. Hell, if I’m still alive in 2022, I’ll think I haven’t been playing hard enough.
I care about right fucking now. My clients care about right fucking now. Our users care about right fucking now. The only people that really give a damn about two thousand twenty two are people who write timetables for a living.
I’m done with web standards. I’m done reading specs. I’m done caring whether a property is part of CSS 2.1 or CSS 3. I’m done caring whether
-webkit-border-radius is a “standard” or not. I’m done caring whether or not a page validates against a given spec. Who fucking cares? I’m building websites for clients and users, not for Jeremy Keith. Aren’t you?
We’ve all learned a lot through this standards movement. We are now capable of identifying a good idea when we see it (like the namespacing of experimental CSS properties, for example). We are equally capable of knowing when something feels inelegant (like maintaining different code bases to achieve the same thing in multiple browsers). Our bullshit radar is strong these days. We don’t need a spec to tell us whether something is useful or not (XMLHttpRequest was incredibly useful, despite not being a “standard”).
I’m not saying the specs should go away. They absolute serve a purpose. I’m just saying that I personally am done paying much attention to them. Instead, I’m reading blogs like Surfin’ Safari and Mozilla Developer News to find out what the new shiny is in browsers, because these are the things I can actually take advantage of in serving my clients and users.
If and when HTML 5 becomes something that can help me serve my clients and the users of their websites, then I will absolutely learn all there is to know about it and incorporate it into my arsenal. Until then, I don’t see the point. There are people, like Ian Hickson and Jeremy Keith, who care about this stuff. Ian and Jeremy, and people like them, are smart cookies. If they want to look forward and try to imagine what we might be doing in 2022, that’s awesome. In the meantime, I’ve got real work to do.
So forgive me if I poke fun at the absurdity of proposing a timeline 13 years out in this industry. It’s not personal. It’s just, I mean, c’mon…that’s fucking ridiculous. It’s ridiculous to even think about what HTML will look like 13 years from now. It’s so unbelievably absurd that I can’t help but laugh. For the past several years I’ve been making jokes like, “HTML 5 will be awesome when it’s done in 2014.” Today, I found out my absurdist jokes weren’t even half as ridiculous as the reality of the situation. And that’s funny. Like, really funny. And if you get your panties in a knot because I am making light of the situation, then you and I just wouldn’t get along.
So while you count the days until HTML 5 is available to you, I’ll be doing real work, on real websites, which have real users, for real clients. I truly look forward to raising a glass to those of you whose hard work will make HTML 5 a reality…in two thousand twenty two.